At times I take time out to review gay works other than films and this is one such instance. For in this insightful BBC documentary noted star of stage and screen John Barrowman adds his own special twist on the age old debate of nature versus nurture, by being the subject of just what makes us who we sexually are?
Thankfully and as expected Barrowman makes for more than a willing participant, bidding his long term partner Scott a temporary farewell before heading to America to undergo a battery of tests in the hope of discovering just what made him, his homosexual self. Visiting his parents to discuss his formative years, it appears that he had an ordinary upbringing, one laced with a-liking for dolls and the songs of ABBA. Yet not everyone who danced to the music of Benny and Björn turned out gay, a point that was underlined when John met two twelve-year-old twins living in the same house and environment, but who are seemingly heading in different sexual directions. Just as he equally went on to meet a man who has 'chosen to be straight,' only for this ex-gay to give the game away when he confessed that "there are things I deny myself because they're not good for me." A sure case of sexual denial, if ever I heard one.
Yet the real bones of the show came not when Barrowman submitted his own DNA for testing in the search for the so-called 'gay gene,' only to discover that he shared the same X chromosome peak as his straight brother. Nor that gay and straight brains 'appear to be different,' with the homo brains' symmetry akin to that of a heterosexual woman. But when a specialist laid bare the fact that such brain differences are ones that you are born with, being literally hardwired in the womb. And here we're talking about the male sex hormone testosterone and the premise that less testosterone in certain parts of the brain increases the unborn child's sexual attraction to the male of the species. Only a 'characteristic test' on John's hands appeared to indicate that his testosterone levels were not depleted during gestation, leaving a perplexed Barrowman facing yet another dead-end and no doubt a multitude of men checking their ring and index finger lengths out. Yet the most intriguing observation amongst all of the hypotheses up for discussion was that the greater number of older brothers you have, the more likely you are to be homosexual. Or to quote the statistics, for each older brother you have, your odds at being gay are increased by something like thirty percent. But was this Barrowman's 'ticket to his sexuality' as he put it, being in effect a product of the so-called 'Big Brother' phenomenon?
That Barrowman armed with his infectious laugh and smile made for more than an enthusiastic subject, almost goes without saying. Just as his heart is set firmly in the right place, inparticular when he voiced his concern that "so many people have lived under the stigma that it's a choice." That such is not the case, with your sexuality proven to be set in stone at birth, will I dare say do little to silence those convinced of the nurture side of the argument. And yet for all of the differing biological factors presented in this fascinating quest to discover the science behind sexuality, one fact remains beyond doubt; namely there's nothing wrong in being gay, whatever way you got there!